Etymology
Advertisement
bile (n.)

"yellow bitter liquid secreted by the liver that aids in digestion," 1660s, from French bile (17c.) "bile," also, informally, "anger," from Latin bilis "fluid secreted by the liver," also in old medicine one of the four humors (also known as choler), thus "bitterness of feeling, peevishness," supposedly caused by excess of bile (especially as black bile, 1797).

The Latin word is of uncertain origin. De Vaan notes apparent cognates for it in British Celtic (Welsh bustl, Middle Cornish bystel, Breton bestl "gall, bile") and writes, "since this word is only found in Italic and Celtic, it is possible that the word is not PIE." But, he adds, if it was borrowed from Celtic into Italic it might be from PIE root *bheid- "to split," which in Germanic has come to meaning "bite," and he notes that "'bile' is a biting substance."

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
tarantella (n.)

1782, "peasant dance popular in Italy," originally "hysterical malady characterized by extreme impulse to dance" (1630s), epidemic in Apulia and adjacent parts of southern Italy 15c.-17c., popularly attributed to (or believed to be a cure for) the bite of the tarantula. This is likely folk-etymology, however, and the names of the dance and the spider more probably share an origin in Taranto, the name of a city in southern Italy (see tarantula). Used from 1833 to mean the style of music that accompanies this dance, usually in 6/8 time, with whirling triplets and abrupt major-minor modulations. Related: Tarantism.

Those who were bitten generally fell into a state of melancholy, and appeared to be stupified, and scarcely in possession of their senses. This condition was, in many cases, united with so great a sensibility to music, that at the very first tones of their favourite melodies, they sprang up, shouting for joy, and danced on without intermission, until they sank to the ground exhausted and almost lifeless. [Babington's translation of J.F.C. Hecker, "The Epidemics of the Middle Ages," London, 1859]
Related entries & more 
puce (n.)

"brownish-purple," literally "flea-color," 1787, from French puce "flea-color; flea," from Latin pucilem (nominative pulex) "flea," from PIE *plou- "flea" (source also of Sanskrit plusih, Greek psylla, Old Church Slavonic blucha, Lithuanian blusa, Armenian lu "flea").

[T]he couleur de Puce, or flea colour, and the couleur de Noix, or nut colour, are the reigning winter taste. [Westminster Magazine, January 1777]

Perhaps so called as the color of the scab or stain that marked a flea-bite; flea-bitten was a color word in English to describe whiter or gray spotted over with dark-reddish spots (by 1620s, often of the skins of horses, dogs, etc.). That it could be generally recognized as a color seems a testimony to our ancestors' intimacy with vermin.

OED sees no connection between this word and obsolete puke (16c.-18c.; hence Shakespeare's puke-stocking) as the name of a dark color of now-uncertain shade (Century Dictionary says perhaps reddish-brown, OED says bluish-black or inky; others suggest grey).

Related entries & more 
rum (adj.)

"excellent, fine, good, valuable," canting slang, 1560s, also rome, "fine," said to be from Romany rom "male, husband" (see Romany). A very common 16c. cant word (opposed to queer), as in rum kicks "Breeches of gold or silver brocade, or richly laced with gold or silver" [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1785].

By 1774 it also had come to mean rather the opposite: "odd, strange, bad, queer, spurious," perhaps because it had been so often used approvingly by rogues in reference to one another. Or perhaps this is a different word. This was the main sense after c. 1800.

Rom (or rum) and quier (or queer) enter largely into combination, thus--rom = gallant, fine, clever, excellent, strong; rom-bouse = wine or strong drink; rum-bite = a clever trick or fraud; rum-blowen = a handsome mistress; rum-bung = a full purse; rum-diver = a clever pickpocket; rum-padder = a well-mounted highwayman, etc.: also queere = base, roguish; queer-bung = an empty purse; queer-cole = bad money; queer-diver = a bungling pickpocket; queer-ken = a prison; queer-mort = a foundered whore, and so forth. [John S. Farmer, "Musa Pedestris," 1896]
Related entries & more 
shrew (n.)

[small insectivorous mammal; malignant woman], Middle English shreue, which is recorded only in the sense of "rascal, evil-doer; scolding woman; undisciplined child;" which is apparently from Old English screawa "shrew-mouse," a word of uncertain origin.

OED calls the word's absence in the "animal" sense from Old English to the 16c. "remarkable." It gives the two words separate entries (2nd ed. print) and speculates that the "malignant person" sense might be original. Perhaps it is from Proto-Germanic *skraw-, from PIE *skreu- "to cut; cutting tool" (see shred (n.)), in reference to the shrew's pointed snout. An alternative Old English word for it was scirfemus, from sceorfan "to gnaw." Middle English Compendium points to Middle High German shröuwel, schrowel, schrewel "devil."

The specific meaning "peevish, malignant, clamorous, spiteful, vexatious, turbulent woman" [Johnson's definition] is c. 1300, from earlier sense of "spiteful person" (male or female), mid-13c., which is traditionally said to derive from some supposed malignant influence of the animal, which was once believed to have a venomous bite and was held in superstitious dread (compare beshrew). Shrews were paired with sheep from 1560s through 17c. as the contrasting types of wives.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
pizza (n.)

"a savoury dish of Italian origin, consisting of a base of dough, spread with a selection of such ingredients as olives, tomatoes, cheese, anchovies, etc., and baked in a very hot oven" [OED], 1931, from Italian pizza, originally "cake, tart, pie," a name of uncertain origin. The 1907 "Vocabolario Etimologico della Lingua Italiana" reports it is said to be from dialectal pinza "clamp" (from Latin pinsere "to pound, stamp"). Klein suggests a connection with Medieval Greek pitta "cake, pie" (see pita). Watkins says it is (perhaps via Langobardic) from a Germanic source akin to Old High German bizzo, pizzo "bite, morsel," from Proto-Germanic *biton- (see bit (n.1)). Ayto ["Diner's Dictionary"] seems inclined toward this explanation, too.

The notion of taking a flat piece of bread dough and baking it with a savoury topping is a widespread one and of long standing — the Armenians claim to have invented it, and certainly it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans — but it is Italy, and particularly Naples, that has given its version of the dish to the world. ... Since then it has undergone a series of metamorphoses in base, topping, and general character that would make it hard for Neapolitans to recognize as their own, but which have transformed it into a key item on the international fast-food menu. [Ayto]
A pizza is manufactured, as far as I can ascertain, by garnishing a slab of reinforced asphalt paving with mucilage, whale-blubber and the skeletons of small fishes, baking same to the consistency of a rubber heel, and serving piping-hot with a dressing of molten lava. ["Simon Stylites," in The Bergen Evening Record, May 15, 1931]
Related entries & more 
bishop (n.)

Old English bisceop "bishop, high priest (Jewish or pagan)," from Late Latin episcopus, from Greek episkopos "watcher, (spiritual) overseer," a title for various government officials, later taken over in a Church sense, from epi- "over" (see epi-) + skopos "one that watches, one that looks after; a guardian, protector" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe"). Given a specific sense in the Church, but the word also was used in the New Testament as a descriptive title for elders, and continues as such in some non-hierarchical Christian sects.

A curious example of word-change, as effected by the genius of different tongues, is furnished by the English bishop and the French évêque. Both are from the same root, furnishing, perhaps the only example of two words from a common stem so modifying themselves in historical times as not to have a letter in common. (Of course many words from a far off Aryan stem are in the same condition.) The English strikes off the initial and terminal syllables, leaving only piscop, which the Saxon preference for the softer labial and hissing sounds modified into bishop. Évêque (formerly evesque) merely softens the p into v and drops the last syllable. [William S. Walsh, "Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities," Philadelphia, J.B. Lippincott, 1892]

Late Latin episcopus in Spanish became obispo, in Italian vescovo, in Welsh esgob. The Germanic forms include Old Saxon biscop, Old High German biscof. Further afield it became Lithuanian vyskupas, Albanian upeshk, Finnish piispa. A once-popular pun on it was bite-sheep (1550s; it works better in German, biss-schaf). The chess piece (formerly archer, before that alfin) was so called from 1560s.

Related entries & more 

Page 9